Virtue #7: Kindness – Eph. 4:30-32

Posted by: cghearn | 08/24/2014 | 12:26 pm

Why must I be kind?

Aren’t there any times in your life when you desire not to be kind but rather to be cruel, envious, and even bitter?  Each one of us in this room faces the issue of, from time to time, being spiteful toward another.  It is this very reason why kindness must be both exercised and made present in our world.  Kindness is defined as, “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

The opposite of kindness is envy which is defined as, “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.”  How is this connected to kindness, one might ask?

What was the second official sin recorded in Scripture?  Adam and Eve had two sons by the name of Cain and Abel.  One (Cain) was good at working the ground and attempted to offer God the fruit of the ground, while the other (Abel) was a good shepherd and who offered God his lambs.  God accepted Abel’s offer, but ignored Cain’s.  This led to Cain being envious: Show slide of Gen. 4:6-7 “The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?”  The second sin ever committed was murder which was propagated by envy.

Aside from the consequences of envy that goes unchecked, kindness is a virtue because of it is lacking in the world.  This is particularly true out here in the West.  Now, even though the Southern states have their issues, I’ll never forget a little thing called, “Southern Hospitality.”

I remember last year going down to Kentucky during the summer on a fishing trip.  The campsite we were at was only truly accessible by taking a boat to and from the dock where we could get supplies.  While waiting for my brothers to get the materials they needed, I had an opportunity to feed the large carp that lived off of the dock and ate the fish food that was available for purchase inside the supply store.  While I fed the carp, a man I’d never met came up to me with a deep southern accent and began talking to me about the weather, my name, and where I was from.  After a few moments of talking to this man, I thought how strange it was that he kept speaking to me; almost as if he had nothing else to with his day.  Then I remembered something from when I was a child, “I’m in the South where people are naturally hospitable!”  I then engaged with him in a long conversation which only stopped after my brothers told me it was time to get back on the boat and return to the campsite.  The kindness of that one man has stuck with me and I’m unable to forget it; even if I tried.

Doctrine of sermon: We must be kind toward one another because God was kind to us through Christ

Why must I be kind?

We must be kind toward one another because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit

Now Paul in this passage is speaking specifically to believers, not to unbelievers.  The way that believers grieve the Holy Spirit is by doing things that are inconsistent with whom God is.  When you do things, such as being cruel, envious, or unkind, the Spirit of God causes grief because He is grieved at your actions.

In my family, we have a particular rule and that rule is that my wife goes through the door first.  Another thing that my sons are required to do is to open the door for my wife.  Sometimes, my sons forget or are in such a rush to do something inside the house, that they’ll run into the house as soon as the door’s open; in those instances I am grieved.  This doesn’t mean that they are no longer my sons, because I still love them and care deeply for them.  They are sealed as my sons and there’s nothing they can do to make me not love them, it simply means that they have done something that is inconsistent with what I have tried to teach them which is to respect women.

This verse is vital to the reformed position in at least 2 ways:

It shows that we are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit.  This same word is used later on in Revelation 20:3 when it says of God that concerning Satan, “he threw him into the abyss, locked it, and sealed it.”  It is the same word that is used to indicate a seal on a letter back in ancient times.  Back during these times, if a letter had a seal on it, the only one who could open that letter was the one to whom the letter was addressed.  If we are sealed by God, then the only one who can undo that seal is God.

It shows that we can still be believers and at times behave in a way that is both ungodly and that causes God pain.

So you’ll never be perfect because the human heart is totally depraved and you’ll never lose your salvation because true saints see and feel God’s sorrow, then persevere through their pain in order to align their life with God’s desires (perseverance of the saints).

I cannot, in my heart, understand how a person can say that they acknowledge the cross and the sacrifice that Christ made close to 2,000 years ago knowing full well who Christ said he was, then remain in sinful behavior.  Now, there are those who say that Christ did exist and yet deny who he said he was.  Micheal Grant, a prolific writer and historian writes “Modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory.”[1]  But then, he writes later on that, “we can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned. ….. In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.”[2] Even non-believers at least acknowledge the existence of Christ!  To me there’s no way that someone, who also confesses Christ as God, can continually grieve the Holy Spirit, being reminded of the cross at Calvary and maintain a life of rebellion without eventually giving up their selfishness.  

If I find myself in those circumstances when I feel like being cruel or when I find myself envying someone else’s position or ability, I remind myself of what my master wants from me.  I remind myself of the price he paid, I remember the fear that he felt, and I remember the obedience that he displayed before the throne of his Father.  In that moment, I desire to truly change who I am.

Redemption: We can, through the Holy Spirit, give up our rights to feel bitter, envious, or be provoked to being unkind…

Why must I be kind?

We must be kind toward each other because the opposite provokes envy which leads to bitterness

The word that Paul writes here in Greek is “πικρία” which even sounds as though it’s bad.  It means bitter when roughly translated.  But Homer (the classical Greek poet who wrote such works as the Iliad and The Odyssey) used this word in relation to how sharp something was or in relation to a penetrating or sharp smell.

About 6 months ago, here at the church, someone left a diaper here when we first moved in.  They threw it into the trash and that week, I was away from the building all week running errands and doing meetings.  So, when I came into the church on the next Sunday morning, you can imagine what was awaiting me as I opened the door.  I was surprised that there was even paint left on the walls, that’s how bad it was.  Bitterness has the same tendency that even though everything looks okay or you believe that everything’s alright, there is a penetrating, sharp, stench that permeates everything.

I have, in this life, seen bitterness do some terrible things to people.  I have seen it tear apart families that once loved each other, I have seen it end friendships, it can lead to hate, and even murder if unchecked.  Envy did lead to Cain murdering Abel, it lead the officials in Babylon to try and plot to kill Daniel by throwing him into the lion’s den, it lead Haman in the book of Esther to trying to kill Mordecai and all the Jews, and finally it lead to the execution of even our Lord Jesus Christ by the religious leaders of his day.  Ultimately, envy was even the reason that Satan himself was cast out of heaven.

A year ago, I laid down some brand new weed barrier under some rock in my front lawn to try and keep the weeds from growing.  It worked…for a little while.  One day I came out and saw a weed about the size of a quarter growing in the rocks.  I remember thinking that it would eventually die off without any effort on my part; I was wrong.  I came back a week later to that weed and it had grown to just above my knee.  All you have to do to let weeds grow is to simply do nothing.  They will grow all on their own without any assistance.

It is the same with envy or bitterness.  All you have to do to let those emotions grow inside of you and eventually take control of your emotions is to do nothing.  Just sit back and let them grow.

Redemption: In order to remove bitterness and envy from our hearts, we cannot simply expect it to happen passively.  We have to take an active role in asking God to work in those areas of our hearts…

Why must I be kind?

We must be kind to each other because the Father gave us Christ

God did not sit back and passively allow evil, sin, and darkness to envelop all of mankind.  He took an active stand in sending His own son, Jesus, to absorb the wrath that was due to us.  Just as this passage starts with a command “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” so it ends with a command, “Be kind to one another.”  CAN I CONFESS SOMETHING?  CHRISTIANS ARE OFTEN TIMES THE LAST ONES I WANT TO BE FORGIVING TOWARDS AND DO YOU KNOW WHY?  It’s the same answer that I guarantee that each one in this room would probably have: They should know better.  If someone knows Christ, if they know Scripture, and if they know ethically what they should do in a particular circumstance (or if I think they know what they should know in that circumstance, particularly if it involves something that’s going to cause me pain) and the screw it up, then I have a hard time being kind.  It’s a good thing there’s Scripture saying that I have to bear with those weaker then myself!

Turn to Galatians 6:1

When you’re dealing with a brother in Christ particularly (this letter was addressed to the church of Ephesus; so therefore believers), be kind, compassionate, tenderhearted, and forgive one another; and according to Paul when he wrote the Galatians, be gentle!

You, who are spiritual need to remember that the next time you need someone to help you through a time where you have sinned against someone or have a great deal of shame because of something that you’ve done that you’d want that person to deal gently with you.

I remember back when I was younger (and this was more than 10 years ago) being lost and feeling lonely in the world before I came to know Christ.  I remember walking the streets for hours finding no hope around me and being in despair because the world around me was cold, cruel, and void of compassion.  But there was a place that I went to where people showed me kindness and mercy; they were warm and displayed to me the type of tenderness that the world did not…it was the church.

Redemption: Remember next time that you’re dealing with a circumstance where someone in the church has hurt you or when you’re frustrated, to treat that person or circumstance the way that the Father did in Christ.

Conclusion

Doctrine of sermon: We must be kind toward one another because God was kind to us through Christ

Illustration:

I want you to imagine that the green dots on this next video are people that you care about.  I want you to focus on one for a few seconds without looking at anything else.

Now I want you to imagine that the red dot is your enemy, do you think the results will be different? You have the capacity to be kind to even the worst of enemies.  –Turn to Matthew 5:43-48

Application: In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo tells of Jean Valjean, whose only crime was the theft of a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children. After serving nineteen years, he was released from the galleys. Unable to find work because he had been a convict, he came to the home of a good old bishop who kindly gave him his supper and a bed for the night.

Yielding to temptation he stole the bishop’s silver plates and slipped out, but was soon caught and returned. The kind bishop said, “Why, I gave them to him. And Jean, you forgot to take the candlesticks.” Jean was astounded at such kindness, and this brought about his salvation. A little deed of kindness can turn a sinner to the Savior.  You have the ability to be kind to even the worst of people.

References:

1. Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (New York, NY: Scribner Publishing, 1977).

2. Ibid.